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It’s safe to say we’re not always honest—sometimes we lie. Let’s at least be honest about that. And on top of that, we usually excuse these lies by maintaining that we don’t lie about the big things, just those little white lies. Whether it’s about that sweater your grandma sent you, that text message you “forgot” to respond to, or the real reason you were out “sick” at work last week, we can exercise and excuse our dishonesty in small ways each day. What’s so bad about that?
The problem is that our motivation for lying about anything—big or small—comes down to two wrong beliefs and conflicting values.
Nearly all lies are motivated by one of two desires:
On the surface, neither of these desires seems to be that bad, especially the desire to protect others from hurt feelings, disappointment, or worse. However, when we submit to these desires instead of what God says is best, we’re disobedient.
Honesty and kindness aren’t enemies. If you’ve ever said a white lie to a friend, your spouse, or your child then you likely felt that the values of honesty and kindness were at odds with one another. Despite this feeling, honesty and kindness are not enemies—they’re inextricably linked. When we sacrifice honesty, we’re usually just being nice or polite and sacrificing that other person’s long-term good for short-term salve.
We forget what John says about Jesus: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus didn’t sacrifice truth just to be nice and—just as importantly—he didn’t forsake grace to express the fullness of truth to the world. We see this conjunction clearly in Jesus’ interaction with the man nicknamed “the rich young ruler.”
“Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’”
Jesus was honest with him because he loved him—not in spite of his love for this misguided man.
It may take some time to practice and probably a few opportunities to ask for forgiveness, but you can be honest and kind. It may feel harsh, to be honest, but this is the real way to be kind—by desiring someone else’s long-term good even if it isn’t what they want and it requires more from us. If we’re the kind of people who step into difficult conversations with honesty and grace, then people will learn that they can trust us no matter what.
The second reason feels less noble than the first, but it’s unlikely that we ever lie without this as an underlying motivation: We don’t want to incur the consequences that honesty could bring. This means we don’t fully trust what Jesus told us: the way of truth is a path of freedom.
Sure, in the short term, we may avoid some small difficulty, but in the long term, we’re setting ourselves up for even greater trouble. Why? Because we aren’t just choosing a single lie; we’re choosing a path to live by, a path of darkness that serves oneself instead of others.
John warns in his epistle, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Honesty puts us on the path of light where there’s real intimacy with God and one another. Don’t let your fear get in the way of those gifts.
We don’t want to be nice, polite people who lie. We want to be kind and honest people who care about others more than our own comfort. Kind doesn’t always look like nice—just like Jesus showed us—and it won’t always be easy, but it will always be worthwhile. If honesty is something you struggle with, don’t despair. John has a word for you, too. Even in our sin,
“we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” who is faithful to forgive and transform us when we confess to him. | 1 John 2:1; 1:9
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God wants us to be people who live in constant respect of the value of other human beings. However, its easy to forget this truth when sitting in traffic, attending to an unruly child, or getting thrown under the bus at work. Instead of getting angry and reacting in a way that devalues others, commit to one of the ways to value others listed below:
Whether it’s to the waiter who accidentally messed up your order or to your passive aggressive relative, a kind word can turn away anger for both parties.
In our fast-paced world, investing a little time into hearing from another person values their story and what’s going on in his or her life.
Don’t assume the worst of others or their ill-intent towards you. More on “minding the gap” here.
Be generous, especially towards people who could never repay you.
Often when we know more about a person, we can offer more grace and compassion.
Instead of getting mad about someone inconveniencing you, offer to help by assisting or teaching.
Jesus was full of both grace and truth. Gracious honesty values others because it looks out for others long-term good.
If you see a need, meet it. You’ll show others that you see and value their needs above your own.
Pursuing and inviting others reveals that you value them enough to think about them and create space for them in your life.
Patience—offered to your kids, spouse, or others—shows you value someone over and above your own schedule.
These aren’t just tasks to accomplish and it isn’t a standard to measure yourself against every day. God doesn’t want us to just follow rules that obligate us to value people. He wants us to become the kind of self-sacrificing people that don’t need
It makes up over half of your Bible, but what does the Old Testament really have to do with you now? It’s unlikely you’ve done a devotional from the book of Numbers lately. Even if you’ve read through the whole Bible, you can admit that things start to feel less applicable to daily life in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. So, should you still pay attention to the Old Testament?
Jesus didn’t disregard or reject the Old Testament law. He said pointedly, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Since Jesus fulfilled the law, he made it possible for the Old Testament to accomplish its intended purpose: to point us to the kind of life that God always intended us to lead. Jesus came to bring into reality that kind of life.
The intention was not a life lived in strict obedience to the rules, because following the rules doesn’t make us righteous. It might seem strange to say, but God doesn’t want people who always follow the rules…He wants people for whom the rules aren’t necessary because the life to which the rules point is flowing out of us. Like the Pharisees, the kind of people who meticulously follow the rules often ends up missing the point of the rules in the first place. Instead, God wants us to learn to live by the principles that the Old Testament laws reveal.
So, what are some of these underlying principles? We see three in the messages of the prophets who sought to call God’s people back to obedience to the law’s principles, not to rote religious ritual.
The book of Hosea details an allegorical relationship between the prophet Hosea and his unfaithful wife representing the relationship between God and unfaithful Israel. Hosea writes, “Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: ‘There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.’” He calls Israel back to love and devotion to the one and only true God.
Isaiah message for God’s people condemned their lack of concern for the well-being of others, especially the needy, despite their religious acts. Isaiah declared on behalf of God, “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening…Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:15-17)
The prophet Amos strongly rebukes God’s people and their religious acts, declaring on behalf of God: ‘I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me… Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.’ Instead he calls for them to pure lives and demands them to “let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:21-24)
These are the principles of the Old Testament Jesus had in mind when he was able to summarize the Old Testament by declaring, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’”
One of our core values at Mission Hills is being Bible-driven, and we’re going to spend some time in these sessions digging into what exactly that means.
In the weekly Mission Hills staff chapel, Craig Smith shared the above study, the third part of this series. Below is a summary the highlights the main points of the video for the sake of brevity, but it is not exhaustive.
If you believe God has written something, you’re going to take care of it and others will want a copy of it.
In the ancient world, creating handwritten copies was an expensive, laborious, and time-consuming process.
They were careful to make sure that it was accurate to maintain the integrity of God’s message. Hebrew “vowel pointing” is a good example of this.
Transmission errors were introduced into some copies often by accident, like omissions or additions of words or letters, or more intentionally, like alterations or modernizations, in an attempt to add clarity. Sometimes there were intentional alterations by groups that wanted to change the meaning.
The discipline of text criticism attempts to reconstruct the original text using thousands of manuscripts. We have more manuscripts of the New Testament than any other ancient text.
Text critics generally rely on three principles:
1. Earlier manuscripts are preferred over later ones
2. Majority witness (more evidence) preferred over minority witness (fewer manuscripts).
3. More difficult readings are preferred over easier readings (because a scribe was more likely to amend a word or sentence to make it read more smoothly).
While there are occasional textual issues which these principles do not resolve, they are all relatively minor and no orthodox doctrinal position depends on a disputed text.
The doctrine of inerrancy applies to the original manuscripts, the autographs.
Church councils ratified what the church had already recognized and been using as scripture.
The books of the Old Testament were gathered together as a whole by at least 425 BC and were affirmed by Jesus himself.
The books of the New Testament were widely circulated and accepted as authoritative by no later than 185 AD.
Contrary to recent fictional assertions, no church council held an open debate on which books should be gathered together as the Bible.
Various councils did however, command that no additional books be read in worship settings, in response to various pseudepigraphical books that were circulating in some areas.
Translation is always an act of interpretation.
Two ends of the spectrum when it comes to translation: formal equivalence (works as hard as possible to maintain a word for word translation) and functional equivalence (works to maintain the most understandable concept in translation).
Translations done in committee are often best so that the interpretation of the original text and the translation depends on the input of more than one person.
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The term “good Samaritan” is a common expression in our culture, meaning someone who exhibits surprising kindness towards a stranger. The term itself originates from Jesus’ parable in Luke 10 where a Samaritan man did just that when he saw a man in need on the side of the road. Even in our increasingly secular culture, we’ve named laws after this character. To Jesus’ original audience though, the terms “good” and “Samaritan” weren’t paired together so readily.
To the original hearers of this parable, a Samaritan hero was a shock. Samaritans weren’t true followers of God, like the priest or the Levite who passed over the injured man on the road. Ethnic differences separated Samaritans and Jews, creating hostility and prejudice. Prejudice quickly grew into an “us vs them” mentality. In response, Jesus made sure his audience knew that these differences weren’t excuses to permit unkindness. ‘Neighbor’ became a verb as Jesus told them to emulate the behavior of the one they had looked down on an “otherized.”
In our current age that increasingly “otherizes” groups different than themselves—Republicans, Democrats, Muslims, people of color, immigrants, or homosexuals—Jesus reminds us that the person who you consider least like yourself, he or she is your neighbor to be loved in the same way you’d want to be loved.
If you’re a parent, you’re teaching the next generation how to view and how to treat others. As much as you might like to avoid the difficult topics of racism and prejudice, they won’t go away if we choose not to talk about them. Prepare for an honest conversation with your kids by first processing through these questions honestly. The questions below were originally featured on Parent Cue, a division of Orange which creates resources our kids ministry utilizes.
In order to have honest conversations with our kids, we need to be honest with ourselves. Check your heart and your thoughts. Be sure to take a step back and identify how you might need to change in your prejudices and in your interactions with others. Reflect on what it really means to love those whom God loves, and unrelentingly pursue forgiveness and reconciliation. Your kids will get many of their cues from observing your response. Yes, they’re really watching and listening. Are your reactions and frustrations to what is happening to betray any subtle biases?
Some parents may be tempted to try to teach their kids to be blind to color, to shy away from acknowledging differences or just ignore them altogether. But the truth is that we are all very different in the way God made us—in our skin color, in our genetic makeup, and in our culture. And that’s something to be celebrated, not ignored. Do you model the belief with your words and actions that God made each of us unique and beautiful even in our differences? Do you demonstrate respect and honor towards those you disagree with? How diverse is your circle of friends and the people you associate with? How can you widen that circle for your family?
Racism is a difficult and sensitive topic, but it does exist, often in the form of subtle comments and prejudice, but sometimes it’s outright hatred and violence. Not talking about it doesn’t make it go away. So talk about the issues with others outside your circle and with people of different backgrounds. Discover the truth from various outlets and seek to understand other perspectives. When you find the right words that honestly and respectfully express how you think and feel, choose which words you might share with your kids.
Then talk to your kids about prejudice and racism so you can equip them with the values and the words they will need to respect, celebrate, and stand up for those who are being discriminated against.
As parents, our hearts break in the shadow of these tragic events, and our anxiety, anger, and fear, unfortunately, leak out onto our kids. It’s okay, to be honest with your kids, but it’s important to talk to them about how your family can respond to what’s happening in our world in a positive way.
As you navigate these important conversations, focus on what matters most: LOVE. Put love into action, and rest in the hope that is found there. And dole out love in especially large doses on your kids so they feel safe and secure. Hug them tightly and let them know that God is with them and they don’t have to be afraid. And neither do you.
For help with age appropriate conversations addressing recent events, check out this article: How to Talk to Your Kids About Racism: An Age-by-Age Guide.
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There’s no denying that Jesus believed money was significant. Other than the kingdom of God, it was one of his favorite topics. Knowing what Jesus has to say about money can help shape our view of what’s in (or not in) our wallets and what we use it for.
Here are seven of the hard things Jesus said about money:
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be loved to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” | Matthew 6:24
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” | Luke 12:32-34
“Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” | Mark 10:24b-25
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” | Matthew 13:18-23
“Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” | Luke 12:13-15
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” | Luke 16:10-11
“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” | Mark 12:41-44
All of Jesus’ teachings about money remind us of this central truth: money is a competitor for our hearts. Pick one of these passages and dwell on it today as you ask Jesus, “How can I become more obedient to your teachings about money?”